The fourth edition of Fine Spirits Auction promises some wonderful discoveries, especially for fans of peaty malts. We have the little Isle of Islay under the spotlight this time, alongside Michel Couvreur and Compass Box.
The Isle of Islay
Small in size but big in character and prestige, the Isle of Islay is home to a dozen distilleries all steeped in a savoir-faire coveted around the globe. Among them are Laphroaig and Ardberg which have been part of the Allied Domecq group since 1997.
Today, Ardberg has turned a new corner thanks to the vision of the MacDonald family who have revealed all the marvels that lie in the cellar. In this auction, we find a rich selection of nectars from this distillery, including vintage bottles, single casks, small batch, and strength casks, matured in sherry or bourbon barrels. These bottles all date from between 1972 and 1978. Some classic versions aged for 10, 17, 25, and 30 years are also featured.
Laphroaig is renowned for its peaty malts, and this distillery has managed to retain all its style and rhythm whilst expanding its range of special editions. Some of these new additions were launched in aid of charitable organisations like Erskin Hospital and Cancer Relief.
Couvreur, whisky à la française
Michel Couvreur was a man with ambition. Starting out with a trade business for Burgundy wines in Bouze-lès-Beaune, he was also passionate about whisky. He journeyed across the wild landscapes of Scotland to explore the world of spirits before launching his own whisky brand. Couvreur whiskies are aged in casks originally used for sherry, port, and even vin jaune from the Jura. Michel’s death in 2013 didn’t slow down the company’s production; in fact, if anything, this pushed Jean-Arnaud Frantzen (Cellar Master) to promote Couvreur’s legacy with passion. You’ll find diverse expressions of this work in the latest Fine Spirits Auction.
Generation Z, finding their feet
Distilleries that were founded between 1995 and 2010 are coming into their own right now thanks to two, key features: the way they’re able to sell young malts, and the diverse kinds of maturation chosen. This emerging group includes: Arran (1995, Isle of Arran), Kilkerran (2004, Glengyle, Campbeltown), Kilchoman (2005, Islay), Kavalan (2005, Taiwan), Chichibu (2008, Japan), and Ardnamurchan (2014, Highlands).
How to start a whisky collection
The world of fine spirits is not necessarily so easy to navigate, so here are a couple of names to get you going: the trade business Part des Anges is a good place to begin, as is the Compass Box range. Otherwise, you might want to begin with a distillery like Knockando.
Part des Anges first became known due to its ‘Closed Distillery’ range of single malts. As the name suggests, all of these spirits come from distilleries no longer in business, making theirs an offer that shouldn’t be overlooked. Rarities from names such as Littlemill, Rosebank, and Port Ellen in Scotland, and Kawasaki and Hanyu in Japan, are all featured.
Compass Box is known for the way it has put together a bespoke selection of bottles from carefully-chosen distilleries. A project that has produced 250 creations in just twenty years.
As for Knockando, this distillery was especially successful in France during the 1970s and 80s, and is now sought out for its top quality at pleasing prices.